Why Every Man Must Compete in Sports

Why Every Man Must Compete in Sports in Every Stage of His Life

You’re a lot busier in your 30s, 40s, and 50s than you were in your younger years, but there’s no excuse for not competing in sports. Here are 3 reasons why every man should compete in sports at every stage of his life.

Recently I competed in Heavy Athletics, my first ever Highland Games. There I was tiny compared to the other men and had no experience other than trying a few throws in my yard which I learned from a few YouTube videos. Of course we had wind and rain! It wouldn’t be a proper Scottish Games without wee bit of weather.

I was nervous when I arrived and through warm ups I really didn’t know anyone. All the guys were nice and throughout the day a brotherhood developed. It really wasn’t until my fourth event, the open stone (throw a 22lbs stone as far as you can) that I started to feel alive and really get in the groove. My third and final attempt was 29’5” I was ecstatic! Then and there with mud on my shoulder and grit in my red beard I knew I had found me sport.

Mark Smith Competing in the Highland Games

I Used to Compete a Lot

I have competed as an athlete in many endeavors during my life. In high school I ran track and cross country and I also wrestled. After college I got into jiu-jitsu and competed in a few tournaments. During college I played just about every intramural I could squeeze into my schedule and I was also a competitive ballroom dancer.

Since then I haven’t really competed in much. I think I did a small weight lifting competition and I did take a Spartan Race seriously two years ago, finishing first in my heat and fifteenth overall. That was actually pretty fun; I trained hard for it and the day of the race we had dreadful conditions.

It was low forties and pouring rain and the course was chewed up from the previous 8,500+ competitors that had gone the day before and the morning before I ran. Still, I have never really competed to win, just do better than I did last time. Which if you look at the sports I have done they are mostly individual sports. In my teaching philosophy I don’t emphasis competition but instead heavily stress cooperative play. So why compete? Better question why now?

#1: I’m Not Done Yet

Mark Smith Competing in Sports

First, I still have a lot of good years left in me. If I train intelligently and am patient the highland games are something that I can do for a lifetime. I met several men at the last games with about twice as many trips around the sun as me and they were competing and doing well.

I believe that competition gives you a sense of purpose.  I have already seen rejuvenation in my practices. I am excited about the next session and thinking about it far in advance. Having a sense of purpose can greatly increase your quality of life. Think of it this way, you wake up and have something worth doing. When the sun sets that feeling leaves you satisfied. That is a powerful thing to have in your life.

#2: I Will Always Get Better

Highland Games Mark Smith

Second, it is never about the podium. I have seen so many guys lose their minds because they didn’t win. These are the type of guys that are pissed off for days after losing a board game at a family get together. These guys are the ones to bow up after every play in a game of flag football.

I have competed many times with this lot and beaten them many times. I have also lost to them. This type of attitude towards competition and “winning is everything” sort of mentality is just juvenile. We have all seen it, and some of you reading this may be getting mad. I am ok with that.

Here is the problem with placing too much emphasis on winning and reaching the top of the podium: you are missing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that the competition is always against yourself and not others. Did you do better than last time? What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths? Are you working hard at improving your weaknesses? These intrinsic questions are good in life too not just sport.

Medals and trophies are freaking sweet, and if you continue to get better than your previous self then perhaps the new you will win a shiny medal or trophy. I want you to compete. I want you to want to win. I don’t want anything given that wasn’t earned.  Just remember to not be a dick about it (people are watching), and always try to be improving yourself. That is the most important competition of all.

#3: I’d Rather Be Doing Something Than Nothing

Third, do something you enjoy.  I have enjoyed all the sports that I have done throughout the years. Right now it seems that I am called to Heavy Athletics (which is ironic since I am rather small for the sport). So, I am going to keep competing and keep getting better. I am going to make some awesome new friends and awkwardly throw heavy shit as far as I can. I am going to down a refreshing pint of Scottish Ale because I enjoy the sport and it fits me.

Find something you enjoy and do it. There is nothing wrong with being a weekend warrior. It beats sitting on your ass all weekend. The social aspect of competing is as rewarding as improving yourself physically. 

There you have it. Three reasons to start competing at any age. Do it while you still can. Do it to better yourself and be challenged, and do it because you enjoy it. As for me, I compete in my second Highland Games in just 4 days, two weeks after my first. I will post the results and hopefully you will be encouraged to go out and try a new sport or revisit an old one.

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Mark Smith

Mark Smith is the owner of Asylum Fitness in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a Movement and Strength Coach that uses unconventional tools and methods to make his students a little better with each practice. His main focus is movement, he believes, “We were born to move. Reclaim your birthright.” He encourages his students and all those he meets to just play, similarly to when you were a kid, believing that play is the foundation of movement and movement is life. “By learning to move better and improving our mobility, everything falls into place.” he says. Mark is an Outdoor Fitness Enthusiast, is well versed in corrective exercises, and currently holds a level 1 FMS (Functional Movement Screen), and is a MovNat level 2 certified trainer and is always seeking to learn from the best. He also has a background in track and field, martial arts, ballroom dance, and currently is practicing parkour. Learn more.

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